Before heading off this Summer to the Balkans region I was curious as to why so many people questioned my decisions to go there, and after seeing the beauty that it holds it really makes me wonder even more.
The main reason I was being questioned on my decision to travel the eastern side of Europe was because ‘it was out of the way’, ‘it’s poor’, ‘what’s there?’, ‘what food will you have to eat?’ – really ignorance at it’s finest if I do say so myself! I found that while it was a lot more quirky at that side of Europe compared to the likes of Italy and France, it wasn’t exactly a parallel universe or anything. It really goes to show how little we know about these countries and makes our ignorance to places so close to home apparent (as I’m from Ireland).
So, the reason for this post is to try and tear away the misconceptions around countries such as Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia (as I’m yet to get to the rest!) in part one of my ‘Backpacking Through The Balkans’ series. Enjoy!
All of these countries are relatively cheap to stay in. We always stayed in a two person room usually in hostels but we also stayed in hotels & air b&b. To give you an idea of what we paid: a 4 star hotel in Serbia cost us €40 a night, while a hostel room (One of the most beautiful hostels ever which you can find here) in Mostar in Bosnia cost us around €25 per night. We definitely could have done this cheaper but dorm rooms usually came in around the €13-15 each mark so for a few extra euro we splashed out for some privacy. The standard in hostels and hotels across these countries was impeccable and staff were always friendly and often went above and beyond to be helpful.
The food was amazing in each of these countries, but I was never stuck with such an outlandish menu that it put me too out of my comfort zone. The portion sizes in places like Bosnia were absolutely insane too so dinner was always something to look forward to! And a burger and chips cost us only €4 each in one of the tourist trap destinations in Montenegro, how could anyone complain with this?! If you are worried about not liking the food you will always have the option of cooking your own meals if you’re staying in a hostel with a kitchen – although it’s hard to understand what exactly you are buying in the shop you can’t go too wrong with a bag of pasta and some sauce!
The beauty of these countries I found was very hard to match. Montenegro is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking places that I have ever seen. The
crystal clear water constantly complimented by the rugged mountains in the background look like something out of a medieval film. Travelling on a boat through the smaller islands off Hvar in Croatia got us away from the hundreds of tourists and let us thoroughly enjoy the beauty of the country. Belgrade’s refreshing lack of tourists meant what you see is what you get and what we got was insight into a gorgeous, friendly city. Bosnia, oh Bosnia! The beautiful gem that is tucked away in Eastern Europe would fail to steal anyone’s heart. The people were very honest and friendly and while you still see remnants of the war that once tore the country apart, you can also see how hard they are trying to build back the beauty.
I can’t really say that I preferred one country over another as they were all quite unique in their own way. What really struck me was how much each of these countries could appeal to a variety of different people, not just to backpackers. Most peoples assumption before I left was that they would never go to these places because they felt like the wouldn’t like them, basing this opinion on little to no knowledge about the countries first. There are beautiful resorts by the beach in Montenegro and Croatia, Bosnia is filled with beautiful places to visit and Belgrade is a city packed with things to do, buy and see.
I will be going into detail about my journey through the Balkans further on in this series but until then, What do you think of the Balkans? Have you been? Or would you ever go? 🙂